Let’s look at my blogging history dating back to college:
- PTformom.com – Started right after college and lost about $1500 on website design
- Fitnessincollege.com – Started next with slightly more success (broke even)
- Healthandhappyhour.com – Lauren and I’s first blog together and we lost more than I’d care to share
- Avocadu.com – Our next blog together that we took to a consistent $20,000/month
- Createandgo.com – Our next six-figure blog, which is where we earn most of our income
Honestly, there were a couple of other blogs in the mix there that had some mediocre success as well.
It’s safe to say that we’ve been around the block a time or two with this whole “blogging” thing. You can read more about our current success in our income report.
The Difference Between a Successful Blog and a Failure
Would you like to know the difference between a successful blog and failed blog?
Lean in real close for the secret… It’s really simple…
The real difference between success and failure is the speed at which you move. Success comes from failing fast and learning quickly from your mistakes.
That’s the key.
You need to get enough momentum and wind behind your sails to propel you through the: “Is there anyone that even knows I exist?” phase and just as important, the “Why is no one buying from me?? I must not be good at this blogging thing” phase.
These phases can make or break you. They’re so important to understand that we’ve written an entire article on the blogging phases — what we call “poop to profits“:
So, how do you start off fast and furious!?
Well, mistakes are impossible to avoid and they’re a great learning experience.
But minimizing your mistakes along the way (and especially in the beginning) will still give you a huge headstart!
Table of Contents (Jump Down)
For all of you preferred video learners out there, here is a video of this topic (plus some extra tips!) from our Youtube Channel below.
First things first, if you’re still using a free blogging platform to run your blog, you’re making the biggest mistake of all.
If your domain name has a .blogger or .blogspot or .wordpress in the name, you’re in trouble.
Let’s illustrate the importance of this with a little story.
Some random guy walks up to you in a bar wearing a large black hoodie, cargo shorts, and 5-year old, beat-up sneakers. Unkempt hair and bear to complete the outfit.
He says to you, “I like your style. We should be friends…” in a gruff voice with no smile.
At this point in the story, you’d better be slowly reaching for your mental pepper spray.
This is a natural reaction to a bad presentation.
Now, same situation different guy.
This one walks up with an air of confidence, is wearing a nice white v-neck, some well-fitting blue jeans, and some sweet black Converse shoes (or Gucci, if you’re into that sort of thing).
He’s well-groomed from his hair to his slight stubble. With a confident smile and relaxed tone, he says, “I like your style. We should be friends.”
You’ll be like… “Here’s my number. And my heart…”
First impressions MATTER – in the blogging world just as much as everywhere else.
And if my first impression of you is that you won’t splurge for a $2.75/month for hosting and domain package, you are looking more and more like Hank Hoodie than you realize.
Owning your domain name and having a professional-looking blog is everything. It inspires trust and confidence.
It tells me that you’re serious about running not just a blog, but a business.
And there is no reason not to when blog hosting is cheap and you don’t need any coding knowledge or experience.
We also have an article on free vs. self-hosted blogs if you’d like to do some further reading on what the differences are and WHY you should avoid free blogging platforms.
The second biggest mistake most bloggers make is not building an email list as soon as possible.
I remember Lauren giving me pushback on this when we first started our health and wellness blog. She, like probably many of you, didn’t below to many email lists and felt like we were “bothering” people.
She didn’t feel like we had anything important enough to say to bother emailing our audience every week.
You cannot afford to have this mindset as a blogger.
The money is in the list.
Here is a perfect example of how we make a lot more of our sales from our email list compared to our articles:
We used a software called clickmeter to track links all over our website and email list to determine where our sales conversions were coming from.
It was a time-consuming process to set up, but we learned SO much from it.
Almost 3x as many conversions (sales) came from our email list compared to sales made directly from blog posts.
And it’s not just us. This is how most six-figure bloggers earn their income when they are selling products or services.
Without a doubt, email is the #1 way to turn a reader into a buyer.
Your email list is your way to slide into your audience’s DMs. It’s how you can begin to establish a deeper relationship with them.
And it’s also an asset that you own.
Algorithms change rapidly and often without notice. You can lose most of your traffic overnight due to these changes.
But your email list? You own that. You can continue to sell products and market yourself or your company to your list even if your traffic dries up.
Our best recommendation (and what we personally use) for email marketing is ConvertKit.
Make sure to check out our article on building an email list if you haven’t gotten started yet:
Blog headlines matter a LOT more than you probably think they do.
Did you know that there are full-time headline writers out there? No joke, people paid to sit in a room and think up the most compelling headlines all day…
Welcome to the 21st century, media folks!
Without a good headline, you won’t get any clicks to your site. And without clicks, there is no money. No subscribers. Nothing.
You can have the best content in the world, but if you don’t pair it with a good headline, no one will ever see it.
You should spend a fair amount of time planning out your content with great headlines that include some good keyword research.
Remember that it’s not just about having clickable headlines. They should also include keywords that can potentially bring you in some searchable traffic (Google, Pinterest, etc.) over time.
Make sure to also avoid clickbait. Your headlines should call out to your readers but not in such an irresistible way that they’re left feeling unsatisfied when they read your content.
This may matter a lot of not as much depending on where you are driving your traffic from.
We drive a lot of our traffic from Pinterest, so we’re going to use that as an example to illustrate this concept.
Headlines matter a lot, but if you’ve attached that headline to a crappy, uninspiring photo, you’re still not going to get the clicks you should.
Here’s an example of how much our pins stand on in the Pinterest feed when you search for yoga to lose weight:
And even if you’re not on Pinterest… If Instagram or YouTube is your jam, your photos and thumbnails matter just as much there too.
You can use free software like Canva to create beautiful images to represent your content.
It can be intimidating to put your content (and really yourself) out there for the world to see.
We all have these thoughts when we’re getting started:
- What if no one cares what I have to say?
- How much do I really know about this? I’m not an expert.
- What if people see through me and leave negative comments?
Do you feel any of those fears about writing? We certainly did.
Most people that don’t have an existing background in writing will probably start off pretty shaky.
But it will get better — with every article that you write. You will gain the confidence and people will THANK you for your content.
Sure, you’ll still get the occasional nay-sayer, but the majority of your readers will leave you positive comments.
Just trust yourself.
Write like you’re having a conversation with a friend. When you write how you talk and how you feel, it gives people a better chance to actually connect with you.
And not everyone is going to dig your real, authentic writing voice. But that’s okay.
Because the people that do will latch onto you like a child in a thunderstorm. And they are the people that matter.
If you’re trying to please everyone, you’re going to end up sounding mechanical — like you’re writing to a bunch of acquaintances and not real friends.
If a former personal trainer and tax accountant can write well enough to make two very different blogs successful, so can you!
We hid behind our health and wellness blog for a WHILE. I don’t think anyone knew who was behind our content until maybe 4-5 months after we started it.
Guess what happened when we came out of hiding and put our faces on our blog…
- More subscribers
- More sales
- More overall growth
- And more personal pride in our blog
Are you hiding behind your blog?
Lots of pretty images, but no photos of your face to be found…
Stop hiding, homeskillet.
You must be more than just a blog. People need to see a face to connect with you if you want them to spend money on what you are selling on your blog.
There are plenty of content publishers that get away with it but most of them rely on a business model of ad revenue from millions of views per month.
This is no easy feat and not the way that the average blogger is able to successfully monetize.
People need to know that there is a real person behind the words.
Lauren and I have made this mistake SEVERAL times throughout our blogging career, and it all always leads to disaster.
It’s hard because as a blogger — you’re generally a one-man team. You’re in charge of everything from traffic to sales to customer service to marketing and so on.
It’s hard to do it all at once, and you really shouldn’t be to an extent.
When we started our first blog that eventually failed, we tried to focus on writing and traffic and creating products and selling products all at once.
It was a mess and we ended up with a failed product and eventually a failed blog.
The second time around, we focused on traffic first and then growing our email list with that traffic and THEN on monetizing the traffic and subscribers.
We took the right steps in the right order.
Focus is key. And focusing on the RIGHT steps at the RIGHT time.
Focus on the #1 most important thing that you can do right now to help your blog succeed. Let everything else go, temporarily, until you complete that one task.
This has served us VERY well on our journey to six figures.
This is another mistake that most new bloggers make because they focus so much on blog design and so little on the practicality and efficiency of their blog.
It took us several months to realize this too. But one day, probably from reading some blog post like this one, we decided to check our speed with Google’s page speed insights.
Our blog was moving about as fast as 2 turtles trying to race through a vat of peanut butter.
This is the best stock photo I could find for “turtles in peanut butter.” What do you think?
It’s food, apparently, but it doesn’t look too appetizing…
Anyway, let’s get back on track…
Low page speed can be a HUGE reason why your blog isn’t getting much (or more) traction. Readers bouncing is no bueno.
But there may be some things (like your images) that you can make improvements on!
Here are some tips for optimizing your images:
- Resize, crop, touch up, add borders, etc. using the free photo editing website BeFunky.
- Optimize all photos before you upload them to WordPress with a tool like Optimizilla or TinyPNG. These tools just compress the file size of your images so they take up less space on the server.
- Finally, download a plugin like EWWW Image Optimizer. This free plugin further reduces file sizes for images within WordPress once they are uploaded.
Turning your blog into a full-time business takes a LOT of dedicated time and effort.
We hope this article helps you avoid some of the common pitfalls that we fell into in the beginning.
If you want to read more about what you SHOULD be doing to monetize your blog, read this article next:
If you enjoyed this article on the biggest blogging mistakes or have any questions for us, please leave us a comment below! We’d love to hear from you!